published: 3rd March 2020
Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.
Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.
But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.
Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.
Galley provided by publisher
CWs: emotional & physical abuse
I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say I’ve been waiting for a new series by Marie Rutkoski for a millenium (or at least it feels like it). So this was always going to be high on my to read list, and to find out it was also f/f just meant it shot right to the top.
The Midnight Lie is set in the same world as The Winner’s Trilogy, but on an isolated island. The main character lives in the Ward, where all Half-Kith must live, separated from the Middlings and the High Kith. Nirrim has been living with Raven for many years, running jobs and forging passports for her. When she ends up in prison after catching an Elysium bird, Nirrim meets Sid, a traveller who wants to know more about the city.
This is a slowburning fantasy story. It’s also a very character-driven one. In terms of big events and action, there’s not a lot, but the characters and the relationships they have are so good, even I, who has absolutely no attention span, was gripped by it. Granted a lot of that was to see if a certain character suffered for being an abusive dickhead, but it was also because I loved Nirrim and Sid and their developing relationship.
As ever, too, Marie Rutkoski’s writing is gorgeous and evocative, and will keep you reading on the strength of it alone. I loved the worldbuilding in The Winner’s Trilogy, and that excellence continues in this book. I think I could read books set in this world forever, just because of how good Marie Rutkoski is at her craft.
In fact, I think I would probably have rated this book 5 stars except for that I was sort of falling asleep in the middle bit (not because it was boring, but because I was tired and needing a nap) and maybe lost track of it all. If I reread it when I was more awake, I would probably rate it more highly.
So, overall, this is probably one of the best f/f fantasies I’ve read, and on some level I’m always going to be counting down the days until book 2 is out.